published Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

UT student, East Ridge native Millicent Smith wins national journalism award

A story written for the Times Free Press by a student at the University of Tennessee has won a national journalism award.

"A Home and Hope," written by East Ridge native Millicent Smith, won first place in the Society of Professional Journalists' Feature Writing, Large School Division for newspapers, part of the organization's Mark of Excellence awards for student journalists. Smith is a graduate student in the University of Tennessee's College of Communication and Information; she will graduate in December.

In the story, Smith focused on African refugees who have emigrated to Chattanooga where, despite a better quality of life, they still face an uphill fight to get help from local social service agencies, land a steady job and fit into the new culture. She focused much of the story on the life of Baja Dalla, a refugee from South Sudan.

"The details of his tragic young life and displacement started pouring out of him and, with tears in both of our eyes, I knew I wanted to do more storytelling, to have the time and wherewithal to find out the whys and hows of stories like Baja's," she said.

Smith, who attended Grace Academy and Bryan College, now works as a freelance international news desk editor for CNN in Atlanta.

Read the award-winning story at

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